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Archive for May 2nd, 2010

Ecosystem's Sketchbook

Ecosystem's Artist Sketchbook was illustrated using permanent markers and pens.

The first assignment of a journaling class I have been attending was to find a journal to decorate and claim. Since I knew I would be creating an art journal, it was time to break out a bright orange Ecosystem Sketchbook that I received as a review copy from the folks at Ecosystem. I struggled with committing to a topic for this journal, but ultimately decided to create an affirmation journal, which supported my desire for more creativity in my life. Since most of the artwork I do is created by hand, I decided to use the image of a hand on the cover to be the central theme.

I chose this sketchbook for a couple of different reasons. I was enamored with the unusual texture and bright color of the cover and I have been wanting try some different mediums on the bright white sketch paper.

For this review, I am focused on using different pens and markers on the sketchbook’s cover, which has a matte finish that feels similar to the texture of an eggshell. By touch, I suspected it would be a good receptor for permanent markers.

Hand illustration

I did the original illustration on translucent paper and then transferred it to the sketchbook's cover using charcoal on the backside of the image.

I drew the illustration on translucent layout paper so I could transfer the image to the cover rather than drawing directly on the cover. This gave me more freedom to create and enabled me to throw the paper away if I didn’t like it. It also gave  me a chance to experiment with the design. Once I had an illustration I was happy with, I turned it over and rubbed charcoal on the back of the image where I could see the lines. The charcoal became the transfer medium I used to get the illustration to the cover. By placing the illustration on the cover and drawing over the lines of the original drawing, the charcoal was pressed into the cover and the image was transferred.

Ecosystem sketchbook illustration

The finished hand illustration after it was transferred to the cover.

I started by inking in the black lines over the charcoal lines. I did this to preserve the image because I was concerned that I might smear the lines as I added color. I experimented with different markers, but ultimately ended up using the Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen because of the rich, black lines. I used a piece of paper between my hand and the cover to minimize any smearing.

Inking the lines on the hand illustration.

I used a Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen to ink the lines because of the rich, black color. By using a slip-sheet between my hand and the cover, I was able to minimize smearing and keep my hand clean.

Next, came the fun part, adding color with pens and markers. I used several different markers and pens on the cover and had different results with each. All of the pens had permanent ink and longer drying times than you would experience when using a porous paper. Using  water-based markers on the cover resulted in beading ink, poor coverage and smearing, so I did not include these in the test results.

Prismacolor markers on the cover of an Ecosystem Artist Sketchbook

The Prismacolor markers were my favorites because of the crisp, clean lines and smooth color in large areas.

Sharpie Fine Point Markers – The lines laid down nicely, but as they dried, the lines looked thinner and less saturated than when wet. I found as I added more color with the Sharpies, the wet line would remove any color below. This made it difficult to get a smooth area of color, but this may be due to the tiny size of the nib rather than a problem with the ink.

Berol Prismacolor Permanent Markers – These were my favorite markers on the Ecosystem cover. The color went down saturated and stayed saturated once the ink dried, even when using the fine nib. The lines created by the fine nib were crisp and clean . The larger nib laid down saturated color and I was able to create smooth areas of color. I used this marker for the colored areas on the illustration.

Pilot Precise Grip – This pen created lines that were crisp and clean and I used it to go over the black lines I originally drew with the Sharpie. They still weren’t as black as I would have preferred, so I decided to go over them with my Tombow Ultra pen.

Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen – Once the illustration had been outlined and the color filled in, I went over all f the black lines again with the Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen to clean things up. The ink is permanent, although it is not a marker like the others. The Tombow produced very saturated lines that were a bit thicker than the fine point markers, and I loved how black the ink was. The ink did take longer to dry than the markers, so if you use this pen, you will need to give it lots of time to dry or you will end up with smears.

Overall I was quite happy with how the permanent markers performed on the cover of the Ecosystem sketchbook. I would imagine that most permanent markers will work well and would be interested in trying Copic markers in the future.

Ecosystem Artsit Sketchbook Cover art

The final illustration. I left room for a title once the journal is complete.

I will be doing more reviews of the paper in this journal with different mediums in the future, so stay tuned. For more detailed information on Ecosystems sketchbooks and their complete line of environmentally friendly journals, please visit their site at: ecosystemlife.com.

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